Rabbits love chewing. Their natural instinct is to chew constantly to wear down their incisors and will nibble anything they can get their teeth on. However, this means they often chew on things that are indigestible and potentially dangerous. This is especially common for rabbits who roam freely around the house and get into mischief easily.
If your rabbit has eaten plastic, the best course of action is to help them pass what they ate. Make sure they have access to lots of hay and water and monitor their litter box to make sure the plastic comes out the other end. Give them the comfort that they need.
In most cases, your rabbit will be fine– Carefully monitor for any strange behavior and try to prevent it from happening again.
What Else Can I Do?
Unfortunately, once the plastic has been consumed, there isn’t a lot you can do about it. Rabbit digestive systems are designed to handle a diet of mostly fiber, so chances are they will be all right. However, be on the lookout for signs of pain.
Signs of pain include:
- Little interest in surroundings
- Low appetite
- Curling into a ball to protect abdomen and grinding teeth loudly
Never give rabbits laxatives or force them to vomit under any circumstance. Doing so could cause them serious harm and make things worse. Large quantities of grass hays such as Timothy or Meadow hay, as well as high fiber snacks are a great option to prompt their appetites. The best thing you can do is to keep a close eye on them and make sure they keep eating and drinking consistently.
Gently massaging your rabbit’s belly could help move things along. This helps to loosen up digestion and intestinal problems. Be careful not to dig too deep and stop immediately if they show aggression or other signs of pain.
Should I Call A Vet?
While vets recommend taking a rabbit in if they have eaten anything that could be harmful to them, including plastic, taking a rabbit to the vet is not always necessary– consumption of soft plastics such as shopping bags, while not digestible, aren’t too worrisome and mean you’ll just have to wait for them to excrete them.
However, hard and sharp pieces of plastic can cut up their insides and can be extremely dangerous. Rabbits poop often, so a sudden lack of droppings is indicative of intestinal blockage, which could potentially kill them. Healthy young rabbits will poop even more frequently than adults. Look out for signs of serious digestion issues like diarrhea and watery stools as well, in which case you should get in contact with the vet immediately. Observing any blood from either end of the animal requires immediate action and veterinary care.
What’s Safe for Rabbits to Chew On?
Accidents happen and all rabbits will inevitably eat something they’re not supposed to– including plastic. A great way to prevent this is to provide them lots of safe, enticing options to chew on to keep them occupied. Many of these options work great with caged and free-roaming rabbits and can also provide entertainment to a bored rabbit. Safe chewing options include:
- Apple branches
- Birch branches
- Compressed alfalfa cubes and tablets
- Dry, untreated pine wood
- Natural fiber toys
- Cotton towels
- Wicker or reed baskets
When selecting chewing items, you may need to try different options. Not all rabbit’s tastes are the same, so don’t worry if they don’t go for an item immediately. Keep trying and you’ll find something they’ll enjoy! Having good chewing options in a large quantity also keeps rabbits from chewing the inside of their cages or hutches, which prevents damages to the cage and reduces noise.
Unsafe Chewing Options
When giving your bunny a chew toy, be sure to do some research– Some chew items, especially certain types of wood or plants are enticing to bunnies but not safe and contain toxins. Most wood is tough for them to chew, and it would take a great deal of work for them to chew and consume an amount of it that would be harmful, but it’s better to not take that chance. Harmful substances and woods include:
- Cardboard with shine, foil, or printing on it
- Cherry wood
- Apricot wood
- MDF Board and other forms of plywood
- Any painted or treated wood
When selecting wood for your rabbit, make sure any wood you give your bunny is untreated, dry, and non-toxic. If you grab some twigs and branches from outside, make sure you know what kind of wood it is.
DID YOU KNOW? Some rabbit breeds just naturally chew less than others. This can be a really great trait for a first-time rabbit owner to have in their rabbit. Find out which breeds chew the least in my article 3 Best Pet Rabbit Breeds That Chew Less here.
If you suspect your rabbit has consumed something poisonous and is showing signs of lethargy and pain, take immediate action and bring them to the vet. Unfortunately, eating a poisonous house plant is a very common issue with pet rabbits, make sure you know what to do if this happens by reading my article Checklist: What to Do if Your Rabbit Eats a Poisonous Plant. Digestion issues and poisoning can be fatal if left unaddressed.
“Rabbit Proofing” Your House
If your rabbits roam freely around the house, make a special effort to “rabbit-proof” your home. Rabbits like to chew against any kind of resistance they can reach such as furniture, electric cords, baseboards, and the corners of walls. Not only does this damage your home and belongings, consuming dried paint and being shocked by electricity and cords could potentially kill your rabbit. Here are easy fixes to make sure your rabbit doesn’t hurt themself or your home!
- Hide and protect cords. Tough plastic tubing or hosing can be cheaply purchased at most hardware stores and is a great option to both organize your workspace and keep your rabbit safe.
- Keep things picked up and off the floor. Bunnies will chew and damage clothes, pillows, and curtains if they can reach them.
- Keep items like books, shoes, and houseplants out of reach. Many kinds of leafy and flowering houseplants are toxic to rabbits, so take special care to prevent access to them.
- Protect baseboards, furniture legs, and wall corners. Metal corner protectors are cheap and reusable. Putting up untreated pine 2x4s around playtime areas can save your baseboards. For furniture legs, clear packing tape around where your rabbit can reach can be a lifesaver. When purchasing new furniture, consider buying tables or chairs with rounded or metal legs, which are harder for rabbits to get at.
If all else fails, supervise your rabbit when not in its cage to make sure they don’t get into trouble. Taking these preventative measures can keep you, your rabbit, and your landlord happy!
Other Useful Articles
- Ask the Vet: “What if My Rabbit Ate Chocolate?” – Chocolate can be very dangerous to rabbits and unfortunately it’s another common toxic substance they can easily get into around the house, especially during the holidays. This article will tell you what signs and symptoms to watch for that could indicate your rabbit is in serious distress after consuming chocolate, and how much they actually need to consume before you should be worried.
- Ask the Vet: Is Newspaper Safe for a Rabbit Cage? – Did you know that using newspapers in a rabbit’s cage can be safe, or toxic, depending on a few factors? What about shredded newspaper and the resulting paper dust? Find out what to look for to know if the newspaper you’re using in your rabbit’s cage is potentially toxic and whether or not you can use other things like magazine pages, phone book pages, towels, and more.